I. Video. Chinzo Jargalsaikhas’s Passion To Bring Jesus To Mongolia. (Acts 1:8)
II. Article References.
Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D., D. Litt. Merrill F. Unger, Th. D., Ph. D. John F. Walvoord, Th. D., D. Litt. Harold W. Hoehner, Th. D., Ph. D. Stanley D. Toussaint, Th. D. Edward E. Hindson Th. D., Ph. D. Robert L. Thomas, Th. D. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Th. D., D. Litt. J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D. Robert P. Lightner, Th. D.
III. Article Narrative. Covenants In The Epistles. The Covenants in the Epistles.
A. The definition of a covenant. A divine covenant may be defined as follows: (It is to be observed that this definition does not depart from the customary definition and usage of the word as a legal contract into which one enters and by which his course of action is bound.)
1. a sovereign disposition of God, whereby he establishes an unconditional or declarative compact with man, obligating himself, in grace, by the untrammelled formula, “I WILL,” to bring to pass of himself definite blessings for the covenanted ones.
2. or, a proposal of God, wherein he promises, in a conditional or mutual compact with man, by the contingent formula “IF YE WILL,” to grant special blessings to man provided he fulfills perfectly certain conditions, and to execute definite punishment in case of his failure.
B. The kinds of covenants. There are two kinds of covenants into which God entered with Israel: conditional and unconditional.
1. In a conditional covenant that which was covenanted depends for its fulfillment upon the recipient of the covenant, not upon the one making the covenant. Certain obligations or conditions must be fulfilled by the receiver of the covenant before the giver of the covenant is obligated to fulfill that which was promised. It is a covenant with an “if” attached to it. The Mosaic covenant made by God with Israel is such a covenant. In an unconditional covenant that which was covenanted depends upon the one making the covenant alone for its fulfillment. That which was promised is sovereignly given to the recipient of the covenant on the authority and integrity of the one making the covenant apart from the merit or response of the receiver. It is a covenant with no “if” attached to it whatsoever.
2. To safeguard thinking on this point, it should be observed that an unconditional covenant, which binds the one making the covenant to a certain course of action, may have blessings attached to that covenant that are conditioned upon the response of the recipient of the covenant, which blessings grow out of the original covenant, but these conditioned blessings do not change the unconditional character of that covenant. The failure to observe that an unconditional covenant may have certain conditioned blessings attached to it had led many to the position that conditioned blessings necessitate a conditional covenant, thus perverting the essential nature of Israel’s determinative covenants.
C. The nature of the covenants. There are certain facts which are to be observed concerning the covenants into which God has entered.
1. First of all, these covenants are literal covenants and are to be interpreted.
2. In the second place, these covenants, according to the Scriptures, are eternal.
3.In the third place, inasmuch as these covenants are literal, eternal, and depend solely upon the integrity of God for their fulfillment they must be considered to be unconditional in character.
4. Finally, these covenants were made with a covenant people, Israel. In Romans 9:4 Paul states that the nation Israel had received covenants from the Lord. In Ephesians 2:11-12 he states, conversely, that the Gentiles have not received any such covenants and consequently do not enjoy covenant relationships with God. These two passages show us, negatively, that the Gentiles were without covenant relationships and, positively, that God had entered into covenant relationships with Israel.
D. As we have already seen, biblical covenants dominated the thinking of the writers of Old Testament Scripture. And while those covenants play a prominent role in the Gospels, little reference is made to covenants in the New Testament epistles. This supports the idea that during this present age, in which a new form of the kingdom is being developed, God has temporarily set aside the nation of Israel, His covenant people, and is developing a new
a. We must also recognize, however, that the New Testament writers most certainly recognize the existence of the biblical covenants and refer to them when appropriate. For example, Paul, in his great epistle to the Romans, wrote to vindicate the righteousness of God. Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, argued that God is righteous in judging sinners (1:18-3:20). He is righteous in justifying men by faith (3:21-5:21). He is righteous in providing for a believer’s sanctification by identifying him with Christ in His death and resurrection (6:1-8:27). And He is righteous in providing for the believer’s ultimate glorification (vv. 28-39).
b. Paul then showed that God is righteous in dealing with the nation Israel (Rom. 9-11). Paul proved this by pointing out that Israel’s hope is based on the covenants and promises God gave to that people (9:4), but that those promises will only be realized by those who have Abraham’s faith (vv. 6-13). God is sovereign in His display of mercy (vv. 14-24), and God’s mercy may be extended even to the Gentiles (vv. 25-33). Therefore, Israel’s covenanted promises are not realized, not because God is unfaithful, but because Israel refused to acknowledge their sin and to believe God (10:1-21).
c. Paul also said that though Israel has been set aside and is not now experiencing the fulfillment of the covenants, that does not mean God is unfaithful, for some in Israel are experiencing the blessings of salvation (11:1-6). In fact, the setting aside of Israel opens the door of opportunity to the Gentiles to find the salvation through Israel’s Messiah (vv. 7-12). Israel, in keeping with the sovereign purposes of God, had been put in the place of blessing and became the channel through which God would accomplish His purposes in the world. Israelis viewed as a branch in a tree, drawing its life from the root. But because the nation was an unproductive branch it was cut off, and wild branches, that is the Gentiles, were grafted in. The Gentiles were put in the place of blessing and could by grace draw life from the root.
d. Warning was then given to the Gentiles that if they became unfruitful branches, they could be removed just as Israel had been removed. But the setting aside of Israel was not permanent, only temporary. Paul wrote, “if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!” (v. 24). Paul assured his readers that, “The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins” (vv. 26-27).
e. We can see clearly that in the analogy of the olive tree, Paul was viewing the root as the covenant that put Israel in a privileged position and guarantees restoration to that position when the Deliverer comes out of Zion and turns away ungodliness from Jacob. God’s covenant program was prominent in the apostle’s thinking as he vindicated the faithfulness of God in dealing with His people Israel.
a. Since the writer to the Hebrews was writing to Jewish believers, it’s not surprising that we would find reference to the covenants in that epistle. It must be noted that, though reference is made to Israel’s covenants in writing epistles to believers in the church, it does not mean that the church becomes Israel or deprives Israel of a future fulfillment of the covenants made with that nation.
b. Whenever “Israel” is used in the Scripture, whether in reference to an individual (Rom. 11:1) or a nation (9:4), without exception it refers to those who are physical descendants of Abraham. Paul makes this clear when he defines an Israelite as “a descendent of Abraham” in 11:1. Gentiles, by faith in Christ and by virtue of their relationship to Christ, who is a descendant of Abraham, are called the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:29). The covenants were made with the physical descendants of Abraham. Those related to Abraham by faith may receive benefits from the covenants God gave that people, but they do not supplant the nation as recipients of the covenants.
c. The covenants did provide for universal blessings, which are applicable to Gentiles and to the church. Universal blessing was part of the Abrahamic promises (Gen. 12:3), which are fulfilled through Christ as Abraham’s seed. Universal blessings are promised through the Davidic covenant, for Gentiles will be a part of the kingdom ruled over by David’s son (Luke 2:10). These blessings come on the Gentiles who participate in Messiah’s earthly rule. Universal blessings are promised through the new covenant (Joel 2:28-32). These blessings will be experienced by Gentiles when the Spirit is poured out on all flesh, so that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v. 32). However, the enjoyment of these blessings that flow from Israel’s covenants does not mean that the nation will not eventually enjoy the fullness of those blessings into which we enter by faith today.
IV. Article Considerations.
A. One of the most difficult and most important factors of writing an article is related to sources of information. A writer must ensure that such sources have a high degree of knowledge on the subjects that are being written, and also must have a high degree of respect from other writers. A second factor that must be considered relates to how to lawfully use material of other writers. In this web site, copyright statutes are not violated. Also, “public domain,” is to be considered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain
B. In this article, I have chosen theologians whom have proven themselves to be highly respected by others in the Biblical doctrine of eschatology (the study of what Scripture teaches about the end times), and other doctrines of scripture. All of the references in this article have a connection with Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) as graduate or instructor.
C. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following links show information about Dallas Theological Seminary. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Seminary. It is important to understand that DTS is not a denominational seminary, and is totally independent of such.
D. About Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).
1. General Info. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Theological_Seminary
2. Doctrinal Statement. https://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinal-statement/